JOHN McMAHON: Putting it all together

IN the last 10 years the evolution of sports science and information in Gaelic games and how teams prepare and recover has improved greatly. However, with all this information available for coaches and players on this can in fact be sometimes very overwhelming.

The consultation work I do with clubs and organisations helping them to fit the pieces of this jigsaw together is undoubtedly the one area I spend most of my time helping coaches.

Below I have laid out a very simple field training ‘tick box’ to help you.


Activate is a GAA three-phase specific warm-up for training and matches that improves movement skills and reduces injury. It is a dynamic warm up which includes the ball. Duration: 20 minutes


Post warm-pp the development of speed and running mechanics. For me I find it best to divide speed development across the week with acceleration focus one session and maximum velocity another session. Depending on which speed night will determine the speed drills I coach that session.

Duration: 10 minutes


The first question I would ask – Is what do you require your team to do? What is your game plan? Your style of play? This will determine the fitness requirements of your players.

You have two main approaches to improve your players fitness – game based approach or isolated running. Through experience I like to use a hybrid model for player fitness. This is simply having blocks of isolated running programmed into your session between game-based training. These isolated running blocks should be used to assist the development of your players’ physical development.The type of isolated running you use will be determined by phase of year and what physical qualities you’re trying to improve (Aerobic development / Anaerobic development)

If you have the use of GPS then this will remove the guess work from how much volume of running you need to do.


Scenario based training and breaking the game into smaller components can really help your team develop. Whether that be in attacking structure, defensive set up or transition and restarts? Breaking these components into smaller concentrated blocks of work really can help with your team development and overall gameplan.


For me, the majority of your session should be afforded to game based training. Whether that be small sided games or large sided games. Here your players are developing all the specific qualities to develop their individual and team performance. Decision making, skill development, physical preparedness and game awareness are all being challenged through games. The use of small sided games some of the critical factors is ensuring you have pitch size, player numbers and duration set at the right level to achieve the outcome you want.

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